Friday, December 4, 2015

Muchukundesvara Koil, Kodumbalur

Muchukundesvara Koil, Kodumbalur
 This is another Chozha shrine built about 921 AD by Mahimalaya Irukkuvel. It is certain that this king belong to the Irukkuvel clan. However whether he was related to the Bhuti Vikrama-Kesari the builder of Muvar-koil is not known.
The temple is a parivara-temple, like the Muvar-koil and the Vijayalaya Chozhisvaram in Narttamalai. There is no idol in the garbha-griham at present. The main shrine consists of a garbha-griham and an ardha-mandapam facing east. The closed maha-mandapam and the Amman shrine are later structures.



Only four of the seven sub-shrines characteristic of Chozha temples, now stand. The walls of the main shrine are adorned with four-cornered pilasters. The arches above the figure niches are surmounted by makara-torana. Above the cornice are friezes of bhuta-gana and vyali-s, from the corners of the latter of which makara-heads just out. The stone dome resembles that of the Thirukkattalai Sundaresvara temple.


The temple seems to have been repaired in the 13th century when the maha-mandapam was built. Of the stone-wall enclosing the temple only some parts now remains. There is an ancient circular stone-well to the south of the main temple.



There is an ancient stone well close to the pillared-mandapam of the main shrine, on the southern side. It is said to have a tunnel about 3 feet in width below, probably an in-let for water from the tank in front of the temple.
Before entering the temple complex, one approaches a stone structure which looks like a mandapam. It is situated in the south-eastern corner of the complex, by the side of the madhil. It has walls on all the four sides and a flat roof. It consists of a large pillared hall in front and a small cell on the back-side. The entrance to this is from the east, outside the temple complex. The entrance is flanked by two hexagonal pilasters. The base of the pilaster is carved in the shape of a lion sitting erect and carrying the pillar on its back.


Vimana of this temple has two tiers. Cornice supported on walls has kudus all around. Above the cornice is a vyala row which separates first tier with roof. The first tier is composed of kuta (square/rectangular shrine) and sala (oblong shrine) similar to the arrangement seen in later Pallava cave temples. There is no separation of corner shrines and middle shrines between two tiers here as seen in Muvar koil. Kutas are places at the corners and sala in the middle of the side.



Statues are placed below inside the middle sala on all three sides. Second tier of vimana does not have kuta and sala arrangement. Cornice of this second tier has kudus all around. Above the cornice are placed four Nandis on four corners similar to Muvar Koil. Nandis either face east or west but not north or south. It seems there should have some explanation for such an arrangement of Nandis.
Above the second tier rises square griva above which a square shikhara is placed. A similar arrangement is seen in Muvar Koil as well. Square Shikhara puts this temple under Nagara style of architecture. Mahanasikas (large arched window) are provided in middle of each side of this square shikhara. An image is placed below each of maha-nasika.



Niches are provided in all the three walls of vimana however all are empty. Niches of first and second tier are adorned with images. Upper tier niche on south has Shiva as Dakshinamurthi. Lower niche of the same side also has same icon however this time Shiva is holding a Veena hence he is portrayed as Veenadhara-Dakshinamurthi. West side niches, upper tier and lower tier, have Vishnu in each.



North side niches, both, have Brahma. This arrangement of Dakshinamurthi, Vishnu and Brahma later became a characteristic feature of the Chola temples.
Referred as Mudukunram temple in its inscriptions, this temple was built by Mahimalaya Irukkuvel, chief of Kodumbalur, in 920 CE during 4th year of the reign of Chola king Parantaka I.
Inscriptions
Eleven inscriptions of 10th to 16th century were discovered from Muchukundesvara Temple. Four of them belong to the period of Parakesari Parantaka I (907-953 AD) and one each to the periods of Raja Raja I, Rajendra I, Kulothunga I, Vikramachola, Sundara Pandya, Vijayanagara and an Araiyar chieftain. Parakesari inscription mentions the name of the builder and his liberal endowment of lands for conducting daily Poojas at the temple. The inscription belonging to the Raja Raja I refer to a temple Desi Val Isvaram at Kodumbalur. The temple, which is not in existence, now, is believed to have been constructed by members of merchant guilds. The inscription also refers to a merchant guild, “Munnuravar” and the name has come across for the first time during archaeological studies in the region.
Rajendra period inscription refers to gifts made by a Panan of Kodumbalur Vizhuperaraiyan Vikramakesari Arulmozhi Devan, while the one belonging to the Vikrama Chola (1118-1135 AD) period details the gifting of 100 goats for supply of ghee for daily Poojas and keeping two perpetual lamps burning by Ooralinatha Ambalakoothan Chola Vichathara Peraraiyan in memory of his son, Kunran. This is only the second inscription belonging to the Vikrama Chola period that has been discovered in Pudukottai district.
Another inscription belonging to the Salivahana year 1454 (1532 AD) gives the name of the Amman as Thirumudu Kunrathu Nachiar, which has been brought to light only now. The inscriptions, also refers to several temples such as Thiru Alankovil, Thirupudisvaram and Vikramakesari Griham — all of which are not in existence now.
Abstract of an inscription from SII Vol 23 – This seems to be an unusual record-in faulty style-purporting to be an inscription dated in the 7th year of a Kodumbalur chief Virasola-Irukkuvel with the Chola title Parakesarivarman prefixed to his name. It states that on the representation (made to the chief) by Alagan Virasola-Anukkamal of the udankuttam, the kanmalur and some others (not clear) an image of the deity called Akkasalisvaram-Udaiyar was consecrated in the temple of Tirumudugaram at Kodumbalur, and provision was made for its daily worship and offerings by means of a gift of a land known as Seral-endal as devadana.

An inscription at a pillar from a temple at the tank refers to it as Minnamalai Iswaram of Kodumbalur. Minnamalai is the surname of Bhuti Vikrama Kesari, an Irukkuvel chief, and the temple had been apparently built by him. The stones used in the temple that had fallen into decay, should have apparently been used for constructing the tank.

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